Racism on the Rise at Syracuse University

Annie Sinert, Scarlet Staff

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Syracuse University is widely recognized by teenagers as one of American’s best party schools. You hear the words “Syracuse University” and immediately associate it with partying, alcohol poisoning and fraternities. What you don’t think about right away is the long history of racist incidents that have occurred at the massive 22,484-student university, almost all of which have been covered up and suppressed by university officials.

This past November, a string of racist and anti-Semitic incidents at Syracuse University prompted outrage and countless protests by students. The first incident occurred on the evening of November 7th, which consisted of an anti-black slur and the words “Little China Town” scribbled in a bathroom on the 6th floor of a student dormitory. The next day, similar messages were found on the 4th floor of the same building. In mandatory residence hall meetings, students were urged not to speak out about what had happened. Clarke Johnson, a black freshman, spoke about the meetings in an interview, saying that “they wanted to cover it up, which they have a long history of doing.” There were also reports of a racist manifesto similar to the one from the New Zealand shooting was air-dropped to students in one of the University libraries, though there was never any confirmation of this. The University’s initial reluctance to speak against these incidents provoked outrage among students, leading to the formation of a group that calls themselves #NotAgainSU.

In the Bio section of the groups instagram page, they write that they are “protesting the racial incidents that have been occurring on Syracuse U’s campus because they are being swept under the rug by administration.” The group used their instagram page as a platform to spread word of their protests and gain support. #NotAgainSU sponsored what turned into a 15-day sit-in at one of the University’s campus centers where students protested the incidents and advocated for other students of color. Like many other demonstrations of similar nature, they were met with enormous support as well as immense opposition. One opposer even took to their instagram page, commenting “go to class you entitled snowflakes.”

The group send a list of 19 demands to Chancellor Kent D. Syverud, 3 of which he agreed to. He signed off on implementing required diversity training for faculty and staff, improvement of campus communication regarding racist and other offensive incidents and making sure that security cameras across the campus were fully functioning at all times. Citing their initial inaction, #NotAgainSU had also pushed for the resignation of Syverud, writing on social media that “under his leadership, racism has been emboldened on Syracuse University’s campus.” Syverud has made it clear that he has no plans to resign but has made no further comment.

In my opinion, the recent rise in racist and anti-semitic actions seen all over the country is a direct biproduct of what is currently going on in our government. We have a lawless leader who goes around bullying and belittling those he deems as less than him. President Donald Trump has fomented and created an environment in which bigotry and hatred are perceived as acceptable. He has moved our country backwards in time and is attempting to destroy any and all progress we have made in terms of civil liberty.

In this day and age, there is utterly no reason for students to go to school in fear of opposition derived from their race or religion. What happened at Syracuse is unacceptable. We, as a country, must do better. We have come so far from the days of slavery and the holocaust and it’s time we start acting like it.